There are more of us. We came out of a time when birth was happy.

We are prizes. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so important, so healthy. If any of us suffered war, we were pained less by the enemy than our ability to kill him.

Our number seems a useless power. We were sold on dissatisfaction—now we’re sold families but they’re no sign of survival this time.

I am very lucky but that’s not life. And maybe no more than any person born in any year, I want but don’t know what, feel unsettled in a sea of similarly restless faces. The breadth of possibility makes choosing seem evasive. We decide but we are slow and small with doubts.

It was 1954 when my parents moved to have room for me. I remember a box my mother packed for me to store at school, filled with canned milk and soup and Hershey bars.

Two thousand good nights. My checked uniform on a hook. My face to the hall light because that felt like a day in the sun. Not fear, not loneliness, but my preference for sleeping near the window and near the floor, humming.

* * *

Larger than hand-passed dangers await us. Clouds and cancers. We don’t work them through to Science or God and reconcile ourselves to them. We are angry at death, cheated.

Raised to a New World View—that all things wear down to one and the same—we heard the aberrations were most extreme. The neighbor boy was “not at all well.” Then, as we recognized intolerance, we thought carefully about murder and considered the poor man who lived on. Our reactions slowed. We feel guilty.

Accidents. Connections. Not fate nor justice but chance. So we don’t pray, or hope, or work methodically toward an end. We live proudly, busily—coping always with how to free-up time. We are sincere and self-conscious, like nervous laughter.

But it was lovely in the dark hall as we shuffled and settled, close and murmuring as the sky supposedly fell in. My elbows to the wall, my hands at the back of my neck, I wondered who whispered near me, who because of circumstance might have touched me that day—Mary Ellen or Philip. It was the last Friday of the month as the siren held its note and across the city people checked their watches. Yes, I would eat my cheese sandwich later and would even find my sweater.

Now we are confused, send condolences to TV characters who have been sickened for the sake of our need to spend time. Gather and spill. We are afraid we will know too soon the year, perhaps the month when we will leave. We want the world to last and each of us to die separately. But then, in a way, we were all born together.

* * *

Breathless. White lights in the trees. They call the color Dusty Rose —of napkins folded to be birds, of tablecloths, tables padded so the china presses. Pitasporum. Pale, they say. I’ll be alright. I put my foot against the chair leg.

Down. Like its own place. Warm water and repetition. But there’s a nearly empty plate. I can’t hear because I’m thinking of what I hear. And though the evening’s balmy still, the leaves are all moving. The sky gives and I’m rising as I fall into a calm like tears with my chilled body and the little flame.

* * *

Sleep was streams of red and white lights curving through the passes. I saw them from a melancholy, silent and weary. I want to fall in love every moment. The ache is fine and selfish, so huge and sad. If someone were here tonight, they would know what I should do with my arms which are so heavy and the numbness spreading from my spine. I might talk with them and learn how to find places for the gifts. If there were skin other than my own or a certain need. Time wears the dazzle of the small lights. I am chilled. I begin to smell the trees. Sleep was all that was left. A small and comfortable boat on the whole ocean.

* * *

I am used to working now. And quitting, leaving offices and elevators carrying people who would be together for no other reason.

It’s harder to be happy. I am not using my full self—we each complain. I am better than this day-to-day. Special. I’ve never considered life a challenge but the worst parts can be funny. I don’t want to be remembered; I want to feel, do good where I am because I am not a hero or a joker. I am tired and busy. The room is a mess and the noise. Call me. Kiss me. Tell me the best place to eat lunch.